New rules to reduce “spoofed” fraudulent numbers and spam calls

The next time you get a call from a 603 number you don’t recognize, pay attention to your phone – it may be able to tell whether or not the call is from New Hampshire.

If you see the words “verified” or “verified number”, it is probably a legitimate call. If these words don’t appear, it’s likely a call from a scammer who spoofed the number, or it couldn’t be verified.

Major mobile carriers had until the end of last month to comply with a Federal Communication Commission order to help customers better identify unwanted calls originating from their own area codes.

The technology – known as STIR SHAKEN – allows the phone operator to validate the caller ID of the incoming call. The implementation of this technology will make it easier to know when crooks “spoof” a local phone number to get someone to pick up.

Brandon Garod, head of the New Hampshire Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said the technology will tell you if a call is from a verified number, but it won’t block the call itself.

“It will authenticate that the number that appears on your screen is actually the number that appears on your screen,” Garod said.

While the deadline was June 30, some operators were already using it, such as T-Mobile and AT&T, who picked it up in 2019.

The technology isn’t foolproof, as some phones, especially older ones, don’t support call verification, and on some devices a user will see a check mark next to a number as opposed to the word “verified.” ” on the screen.

These changes come at a time when automated calling numbers are reverting to pre-pandemic numbers.

About 37% of robocalls in the United States in 2021 are scams, according to YouMail, a developer of visual voicemail and automated call blocking software.

Before the pandemic, Americans received about 5 million automated calls per month.

Not all carriers were subject to new rules, as small carriers with less than 100,000 consumers will be two years older.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) operators were also subject to this deadline. Many crooks use VoIP companies as carriers because VoIP technology allows them to make calls over the Internet from phones.

Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, said that crooks work with VoIP companies just like regular businesses.

“So if I’m a con artist and want to connect to the US telephone network and make a call, I have to have a company that I work with that allows me to do that. The same as if I were a real business and wanted to get a VoIP number and make calls for my business, ”Quilici said.

Just as they use VoIP services like a regular business, they can be hard to differentiate from a regular business or at least initially, Quilici said. “It’s really hard to tell if someone is a bad guy or not until they start making phone calls and you start getting complaints and you see this guy doing a Medicare scam. detect it, ”Quilici said.

Garod said the real solution may not be technology, but rather a cultural shift in the way people use the phone.

“It wouldn’t be necessary if people just changed their current behaviors to not answering the phone if they didn’t recognize the number,” Garod said, especially the elderly.

“This generation in particular has been trained throughout their lives that it’s common for courtesy and politeness to dictate that if someone calls you, you answer the phone,” Garod said. “If people stop answering spam calls, spam calls will go away. ”

Removing the point of entry for crooks is essential, Garod said.

“Their whole business model depends on the people who answer the phone. If they can’t reach you on the phone, they can’t make you believe the scam scenario they’ve concocted, ”Garod said.

Most crooks won’t bother to leave voicemail messages, but even if they do, the recipient of the call will have time to figure out who is actually calling them without the pressure of being online, Garod said. .

“These people who commit these scams are almost always located in foreign countries and are so masked by various methods of concealing phone numbers, fake email addresses and fake IP addresses that it is almost impossible to identify them. “Garod said. “Any technology patch only protects technology that is existing and identified at the time the technology is developed. ”